The mountain lion is an all too common predator in llama and alpaca pastures in the western part of the United States.  It's also
known as the cougar, puma, or panther and is the largest wildcat in North America.  Mountain lions can leap as far as
40 feet and as high as 15 feet.  They have powerful claws to rip their prey apart.

Predators In The Pasture

Coyotes     Bears      Cougars      Rattlesnakes

Are Coyotes Actually Guarding Your Livestock From Predators?


Dogs are no longer pets, but Predators when allowed to roam in our pastures!

"Although pasture predator problems differ in various parts of the country, the roaming neighborhood dog has perhaps done the most damage in llama and alpaca pastures. Whenever I see a stray dog, I think of this!

 This is a reminder that Dogs are no longer "pets", but Predators when allowed to roam.

This photo is the result of 3 rottweilers digging under our fence. This male llama luckily survived with weeks of intensive care.  It took about 8 hours to clean and flush these wounds - the legs and chest and belly were in the same shape.  This happened several years ago, and you can still see the scars.
Loose dogs don't get a second chance around here!"

Debby, High Sierra Llama Ranch


"While we do always blame the irresponsible dog owners, and while they are indeed blameworthy and should be held responsible for the damage their dogs do, any reparations they make, or killing their dogs, does not bring back the poor, frightened, killed animals, or relieve the emotional pain of victims' owners. So what is the best possible way to avoid such tragedies?
In my opinion we, as lama owners, should just face up to this: The danger from the dogs of irresponsible owners is a fact of life, just like danger from other things we have no control over--cars on the road, mountain lions, bears, rattlesnakes, lightening strikes, idiot hunters and whatever else. What do we do against these dangers? We fence our llamas in so they can't get out on the road. People who live in lion or bear country shut their lamas in safe barns at night and/or have high fences with electric wire at the top, and they may have good large guard dogs, too. In rattlesnake areas people remove wood or brush piles that tend to make good places for the snakes to live, and they keep guinea hens or other fowl good at killing or deterring snakes. People who have their llamas in hunting areas put blaze orange collars on their llamas during hunting season.

So, in the case of dangerous dogs, WE should take on the responsibility of doing whatever we can to protect our precious animals from these predators. How? By putting up fences to keep those dogs OUT. Put tall enough field fence tight to the ground. The standard 47" high fence is usually enough. If necessary run an electric fence wire around the outside, too, about 6 inches off the ground, especially where some dogs may try to dig under a fence. Another electric wire at the top also helps prevent larger dogs from jumping up and over. I know one couple who even buried chicken wire along the outside of their fence to keep dogs from digging under in soft mountain turf - pretty extreme, but it worked.

Anybody who inquires about buying llamas from me gets questioned about the area in which they live and what kind of fences they have. Are loose dogs apt to roam the neighborhood? And they get told the fact that over the years, in the whole llama community, domestic dogs have proved to be THE greatest danger to llamas. I know a lot of people don't like to hear this, but given this fact, it is my contention that we, the lama owners, are even more responsible for the safety of our animals than the owners of predatory dogs. Let's face it, many dogs are predators, so we need to do everything we can to protect.our animals from them."
Bobra Goldsmith, Rocky Mountain Llamas


Many people mistake coyotes for German Shepherds as the coyote population is increasing steadily in the Midwest and also across the country .... moving closer to rural areas and cities. Although there is no way to track the coyote population, it is now estimated that there are approximately 20,000 just in Indiana. These growing numbers impact farm producers by sometimes killing very young livestock. Sheep producers seem to be the hardest hit. Nationwide in 1991, coyotes killed more than 300,000 sheep which cost farmers and ranchers an estimated $21.7 million.

Coyotes in Indiana resemble a small German Shepherd and weigh 25-30 lbs. while measuring 40-50 inches from nose to tail. Any coyote-like animal weighing more than 50 lbs. is likly to be a coy dog - an offspring of a coyote and a domestic or wild dog. Their coloring tends to have a salt and pepper look blending well into the landscape. Their upper body appears gray or buff while the lower body is white, cream-colored or reddish yellow. Reddish brown markings may be seen along the legs and jaw. The muzzle is narrow and pointed ... the ears stand up. When running, coyotes' bushy tails are straight out behind them. When standing still, their tails hang straight down. Their keen senses of sight, smell, and hearing make the coyote adaptable to most any conditions and a great survivor.

Coyotes may be seen at any time of year, but more may be visible between April and August because the majority of coyote kits are born in spring and throughout the following months. Livestock attacks are more common during these times when the coyote parents range more often for more food to feed their young once the kits are ready for solid foods. Coyotes are territorial and will only leave their hunting range under duress. They are best known for their haunting songs at dusk. Although folklore suggests they are howling at the moon, the coyote's howl, a more high-pitched yipping than a true howl, is perhaps used to declare their territory or warn others to respect territorial boundaries.

Their varied diet mainly consists of mice and squirrels as well as birds, rabbits, woodchucks, insects, and carrion, but they also eat poultry, livestock, and cultivated fruits and vegetables. Although coyotes are numerous enough to cause problems in some areas, they do serve a purpose in nature's plan - especially keeping the rodent population down.

Relying on sharp teeth alone, prey is immobilized when it is grasped by the throat and suffocated. A coyote kill can always be identified by tooth punctures around the throat. Small mammals and birds may be swallowed whole. Much predation to deer and domestic sheep has been blamed on coyotes, but multiple animal attacks are more commonly roaming packs of dogs. Dogs most often mutilate their prey on several parts of the body and mangle the flanks and hindquarters, but do not usually eat animals they have killed. Lone hunters, coyotes will feast on livestock killed by dogs and will shun fresh meat for something that is a day old or more. Tracks around the dead livestock is another way to determine whether the attack was dogs or a coyote. Coyote tracks are oval shape with the front track larger than the hind track. Dog tracks are rounder, and the nails show more prominently. Dogs generally travel and kill in packs so tracks around a kill showing a wide range in size would strongly suggest dogs rather than coyotes.

Office of Animal Damage Control, Purdue University
Wild dogs by Erwin A. Bauer

Good Information and personal stories about
Llamas As Guards

A very informative site about livestock predators of all kinds,  
Predator FAQ, by Ronald Florence.

Are Coyotes Actually Protecting Your Livestock From Predators?  Guard Coyotes?


A Little Coyote Humor

A few years ago, the Sierra Club and the U.S. Forest Service were presenting an alternative to Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population. It seems that after years of the ranchers using the tried and true methods of shooting and/or trapping the predator, the tree-huggers had a "more humane" solution. What they proposed was for the animals to be captured alive, the males castrated and let loose again and the population would be controlled. This was ACTUALLY proposed to the Wyoming Wool and Sheep Grower's Association by the Sierra Club and the USFS. All of the ranchers thought about this "amazing idea" for a couple of minutes. Finally, an old boy in the back stood up, tipped his hat back and said, "Son, I don't think you understand the problem. Those coyotes ain't breedin’ our sheep, they're eatin' 'em!"


Cougar Attack on Llama


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